DETROIT (AP) — The mother of a Michigan girl dismissed from a Catholic school for not meeting academic and attendance standards during leukemia treatments said Sunday that her daughter has been invited back but will attend a public school for now.
Barbara McGrath told The Associated Press St. Joseph Middle School officials informed her that Rose McGrath could return to the Battle Creek school but postponed a meeting to discuss concerns until later this week to allow for "a cooling off period." Barbara McGrath said that her daughter is attending Lakeview Middle School and that she can't say whether Rose will return to St. Joseph until she determines if issues can be resolved.
"It sounds like they're not going to pass her anyway, even if she goes back," Barbara McGrath said of her 7th-grade daughter, who is in remission but still recovering from treatments for acute lymphoblastic leukemia diagnosed in 2012. "I don't see her being able to go back there and being successful."
The school wrote in a letter addressed to Rose's father and provided to the AP by the family that officials worked with her but absences "hampered her academic performance." It adds that the 12-year-old had attended 32 full days this academic year out of 134 days as of April 13, but Barbara McGrath says that doesn't include "numerous" partial days.
The school also wrote that it has taken "significant adjustments to our standards" to help Rose, including reducing her workload and paring down assignments and tests.
"Rose's attendance, coupled with her academic performance, do not qualify her for continued attendance at St. Joseph Middle School," the letter read. "We know Rose to be an intelligent and thoughtful child, and believe she would be well-suited to enroll in an academic setting more geared to homebound students, perhaps an online program as we have discussed in the past."
The Associated Press couldn't immediately reach John Fleckenstein, the Battle Creek Area Catholic Schools' pastor administrator. He told WWMT-TV last week that "these were extraordinary circumstances" but they were necessary after "so many accommodations were made" to help Rose.
Barbara McGrath countered that the school made only minor modifications to the workload and her daughter "had to do every single project, every single test." McGrath added that, by her account, Rose was on track to pass this year.
McGrath said they have filed a complaint with the federal Office of Civil Rights and asked the private district to adopt an accommodation plan for ill students similar to those required in public schools.